NewsTeam 10 Investigates


Car restoration business owner said he's owed thousands for months' worth of work

Posted at 1:25 PM, Oct 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-04 21:25:19-04

SANTEE, Calif. (KGTV) — Joshua Cantor started his small business nine years ago. He runs Evolve Custom Automotive Restoration out of Santee.

"I probably work about 60 hours a week," Cantor said. "I love the people I work with. I love the customers."

Earlier this year, he got a job to do work on a 1985 Lamborghini Countach. Cantor said it's worth about a half million dollars.

"We did some really complex work on it. It's an aluminum body car and had some unique fiberglass pieces to it as well," Cantor said.

Cantor said he also did smaller jobs on other high-end cars for the same business owner, Christopher Dugan, who runs his own restoration shop and contracts others to help with work. When Dugan checked on the Lamborghini in March, Cantor said "he was completely pleased with it."

"[Dugan] said 'Oh yeah, I see everything you guys have been doing', and we laid out a plan for a time frame for the remainder of the project," Cantor said.

However, Cantor said it got strange when they talked about the expected price. Dugan decided to pull the Lamborghini from the shop, according to Cantor, but there was a balance on the account which totaled more than $9,000.

Cantor received a check for $9,586.35 and said he deposited the money the same day. Then Cantor received some surprising news.

"The next day, the bank called me and they said, that check you deposited had a stop payment put on it," he said. Cantor told Team 10 he has never had any payment issues with any other customers.

Cantor filed a report with the Sheriff's Department in May. According to that report, a detective interviewed Dugan, who admitted "he intended on canceling the check" to prevent Cantor from receiving payment.

"Dugan immediately put a stop payment on the check to prevent ECAR from being paid for work he did not feel was completed," the detective wrote in the report. "Dugan did not believe what he was doing was criminal."

The Sheriff's detective felt there was probable cause to charge him with passing a bad check.

"He said are you willing to testify in court about this and I said yes. I really stand for integrity in the industry," Cantor said.

Cantor said he received more disappointing news when he learned from the detective in early August, the district attorney's office was not going to prosecute.

Team 10 discovered this is not Dugan's first allegation of criminal wrongdoing related to cars.

According to court documents, he was charged in the mid-1990s for conspiracy to commit a crime, receiving stolen property, altering/changing a vehicle identification number, and buying, selling, or possessing a vehicle with an altered VIN.

Dugan has not answered Team 10's calls. Team 10 also visited the business, where an employee said that he did not want to talk about the allegations related to Cantor.

There may be a little hope for Cantor. When Team 10 recently checked with the San Diego District Attorney's office, a spokesperson told me they "are still reviewing the case."

"My hope is that the DA will, I hate to say it so bluntly, but will do their job and really prosecute a case where really many people were harmed," Cantor said.

He plans to pursue civil action as well.